“I am very interested in writing for your monthly language blog. I am a current Spanish student, hoping to one day be a Spanish teacher. I will be landing in Chile in two weeks, and will be traveling around Chile (and probably Argentina, Peru, or Ecuador) the whole summer (winter there). I plan to see many museums, walk around town, mingle with many locals, practice my Spanish, and write about my experiences.”
We were immediately interested in hearing more about Kjera’s upcoming South American adventures and we hope that you are too. I’m happy to present Kjera, in her own words.
by Kjera Núñez-Rigotti
Oh, the joys of learning Spanish…. Or trying to at least. My journey began 15 years ago when I took a Spanish class in Jr. High. I wanted to be able to speak to my cousins in their own language. Well, that did not go well. First of all, I was maybe one of the shyest people ever. This can be a huge problem when learning a language, because you have to speak it if you are going to improve. Also, I was not at a stage in life where I could focus on anything that took so long to learn. I admit it; I gave up very quickly.
Years later, I fell in love with an amazing man from Chile. I once again began trying to learn Spanish. I took a community class (7 hours total), thinking that would actually be enough time to learn anything worthwhile. In case you were wondering, seven hours is NOT enough time to learn Spanish! I couldn’t afford real Spanish classes at the time, so I decided I would teach it to myself. Apparently I was not a great teacher; my sweet boyfriend very kindly explained to me that it was actually easier to understand me in English than in Spanish.
Eventually, we got married, and I had the wonderful opportunity to go back to college where I immediately enrolled in Spanish. I have been taking Spanish classes for two years now, and I seriously laugh at the thought that anyone would even think to offer a seven-hour Spanish course. I have spent more time than that studying Spanish every week for two years now, and I am still so far from “knowing” Spanish.
Everyone makes mistakes when speaking a new language
I have had so many mishaps. For instance, I was speaking with some Latina women at work and I apparently pronounced calle incorrectly. They all burst out laughing and told me not to say that word at work. When my husband and I were first dating, I accidentally told him I was casado instead of cansado. He said, “To who?” and laughed for weeks about it. There is only one way to deal with the many mishaps of learning a new language: laugh. There is no way that you aren’t going to make mistakes (often hilarious ones), and so a sense of humor is necessary.
What are your go-to resources?
I have found so many useful resources in my voyage of attempting to learn Spanish. I use my Vistas textbook, as well as the amazing website that comes along with it. I make and buy flashcards by the hundreds. I also by other books that help explain/teach Spanish in different ways. One of my current favorites is called “Practice Makes Perfect: Spanish Verb Tenses.” I also love two other books. I am not quite finished with these books, but what I have read so far is amazing. They are called, “Madrigals Magical Key to Spanish,” and “Breaking Out of Beginners Spanish.” I watch Señor Jordan’s YouTube videos, which are a fun way to switch it up. I recently found some Spanish cartoons online as well. That is a very entertaining way to learn Spanish! And, of course, I utilize the wonderful free website, Livemocha. A very important website for any language learner.
I am traveling to South America soon. I land in Chile and I hope to travel as much as I can there, and maybe even to Argentina, Peru, or Ecuador. I am very nervous and excited to practice my Spanish-speaking skills. It will be quite an adventure! I am going to be there for almost three months, and would really love to share my experiences and struggles with all of you.
Keep your eyes peeled on Wednesdays for more stories about Kjera’s South American adventures and from our other Diary of a Language Learner contributors.
Coming up tomorrow – Good news for Livemocha users with a library card.